Bands of Randolph Jazz Ensembles Present Lively Annual Jazz Coffeehouse Concert

Freshman pianist Eli Kahn, junior bongo player Kavin Chandrasena, senior bass guitar player Andrew Berkemeyer, and sophomore percussionist Ben Herring provide unique accompaniments to the wind instruments at the Jazz Coffeehouse concert on Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023.

Andrew Berkemeyer, Guest Reporter

The Bands of Randolph Jazz Ensembles, featuring student musicians from both Randolph Middle School and Randolph High School, presented their annual Jazz Coffeehouse concert at the high school on Wednesday, Feb. 22.

“The evening itself is unique as it draws an audience from all over the area, not just family,” said RHS Jazz Band Director David Miller “[This concert] is a highlight of the year for me.”

Three bands performed, including the RMS Jazz Ensemble, the RHS Jazz Ensemble I and the RHS Jazz Ensemble. In addition to an eclectic mix of music, in keeping with its name, the evening event also featured unlimited coffee and desserts.

The RMS Jazz Ensemble, directed by Music Teacher Tom Davidson, performed first. Selections included “First Time Around” by Mike Lewis, as well as “Splanky” by Neal Hefti and arranged by Roy Phillipe.

“I love how big the middle school jazz band is,” said senior trumpet player Autumn Carmona, who is confident that the students’ enthusiasm for jazz music, “shows a lot of promise for the future of Jazz Band and the music department in general.”

The revered RHS Jazz Ensemble II, directed by Music Teacher Nick Fantazzi, was next to take the stage. The band performed three pieces: “Bb (B flat) Blues Shuffle Time” by Jamey Aebersold, “Sideways Walking Dog” by Zachary Smith and “April in Paris” by Vernon Duke. These songs were unique as they conveyed a sense of modernity in what was mostly a classic Jazz-based Bebop-style concert reminiscent of the 1940s.

RHS Jazz Ensemble I, directed by Miller, concluded the night with a four-piece repertoire. The segment included “At the Oasis” by Andy Farber and “Front Burner” by Sammy Nestico, both of which had a distinctly joyful air.

The next piece performed by the Jazz 1 group was “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat,” another standard by the late great composer Charles Mingus, who is a favorite of Miller’s. The fourth piece, “Tutu,” written by bass player Marcus Miller and originally performed by the one and only Miles Davis, brought thunderous bass to center stage and put a tidy bow on the modern style of the evening.

However, the final piece of the night returned to both the Coffeehouse’s and Miller’s classic roots with the piece “Blue and Boogie” by Dizzy Gillespie. “[Blue and Boogie] was my favorite,” Carmona commented. “It gives me a huge adrenaline rush and it’s super fun.”

The audience, comprised of jazz, band and coffee enthusiasts, left the event with a true appreciation for the beautifully performed artistry and willingness to experiment from this exceptional group of student musicians.

Editor’s Note: Jazz Band students will be performing in future concerts and with other ensembles later this month. On March 22, Jazz Band will perform in competition with the Concert Band, Symphonic Winds and Wind Ensemble at Parsippany High School.  Jazz Band will also perform with the Pit Orchestra for the RHS Drama Club’s upcoming production of “Fiddler on the Roof” on March 24 and 25. To purchase tickets for “Fiddler,” go to